Asking the Hard Questions about Israel

In 1948, the village of Tantura fell within the borders of the newly created state of Israel. It was a small, seaside village of approximately 1,200 residents, most of them Arab farmers and fishermen. As the war between Israel and its Arab neighbors escalated, Tantura became an important transit point for smuggling supplies to a clutch of Arab villages in the area. To sever this supply line, and...
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Who Are the People?

The people have spoken. They have elected a government. No, wait, I hear the angry shouts of a demonstration in the streets. “We are the people,” they are crying. The crowd is getting larger and larger. They are pressing against the gates of parliament and the presidential palace. And now the government has fallen. The people have spoken. I don’t blame you for being just a little confused...
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The Greatest Threat to Europe

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War I. Today, Europe has left war behind. In place of jostling empires, there is the European Union, a modern family beset by the usual bickering but nothing that a smothering bureaucracy can’t handle. Even Sarajevo, where the assassination of archduke Franz Ferdinand sparked world conflict in 1914 and a ghastly siege claimed...
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The Color Wars

I played for Green when I was growing up. That was my soccer team. We were divided up by color: Green vs. Red, Gold vs. Blue. The teams were chosen at random, but we became fiercely attached to our color. Friendships across color lines became strained. We talked of “Purple power” and the “Gold tradition.” For all I know, the league was run by psychologists testing the influence of...
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The Twilight of Leadership

With the death of South African leader Nelson Mandela, many have mourned the passing of a brave activist, a far-sighted statesman, and a compelling moral force in the fallen world of global politics. His passing has touched hundreds of millions of people around the world. They are grieving his death, of course. But they may also be lamenting something much bigger: not just the passing of a...
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Competitive Suffering

I was nearly at the end of a presentation on the North Korean prison camp system, when the last person in the audience grasped the microphone to ask a question. His question was so unexpected that I was literally blindsided. Up to that point, I’d already described the conditions inside North Korea’s prison camps as “odious” and “systematic,” which qualified them as a crime against...
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